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Prime Minister Scott Morrison clashes with reporters on final day of election campaign

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PM’s fiery clash with press pack as he accuses one reporter of ‘putting words in my mouth’ and another of being a ‘bulldozer’ – before he gives his final 10-second election pitch to voters

  • PM played tit-for-tat with reporters, calling out a journo for being a ‘bulldozer’ 
  • Morrison neither confirmed nor denied National Security leak on South Pacific
  • He called out another reporter to not put words in his mouth about the leak

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had his final fiery election campaign clash with journos, accusing one of being a ‘bulldozer’ and telling another to stop ‘putting words in my mouth’.

Guardian journalist Paul Karp bore down on Mr Morrison at a press conference  in Perth on Friday, accusing the PM of not taking seriously his pledge to be less of a bulldozer.

Mr Morrison last week acknowledged his ‘bulldozer’-style had alienated colleagues and voters, suggesting Australians would see a change of ‘gears’ if he was re-elected.

Scott Morrison calls out a reporter for doing his own bulldozing, while defending the integrity of his National Security Committee when quizzed on the recent South Pacific security leak

Scott Morrison calls out a reporter for doing his own bulldozing, while defending the integrity of his National Security Committee when quizzed on the recent South Pacific security leak

Guardian journalist Paul Karp (pictured) digs into Scott Morrison about his continuing bulldozing

Guardian journalist Paul Karp (pictured) digs into Scott Morrison about his continuing bulldozing

Mr Karp asked Mr Morrison how voters could trust him when he had not shown evidence of softening in his style, leading to the curt exchanges. 

‘How can Australians trust this last minute conversion when you have reneged on it in less than a week, and there’s been no changes of policy or substance,’ Mr Karp said. 

Mr Morrison shot back, saying he didn’t agree with his assertion, before the two started to speak over each other in the heated exchange.

‘What have you changed in substance? What policy?’, Mr Karp asked, before Mr Morrison accused the reporter of being a bulldozer himself.   

‘You’re sounding like a bit of a bulldozer,’ Mr Morrison quipped. 

At the same press conference, journalists quizzed the PM about an allegedly damaging security leak from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The disclosure revealed that a $2.8 billion funding proposal for the South Pacific had been rejected by Cabinet’s National Security Committee. 

The apparent leak showed Foreign Minister Marise Payne had wanted to boost funding in the region, a request that was turned down right before China struck a deal with the Solomon Islands.

Mr Morrison denied the revelation came from the committee, asserting the team ‘has been extremely tight’ and said he had no doubt about the integrity of the peak decision-making body.

One reporter asked whether Morrison would call for an investigation into DFAT regarding the untimely leak against his government.  

‘I will not speculate on these issues. I’m not confirming these matters have been discussed,’ Mr Morrison said. 

‘I don’t confirm or deny any issues that are raised around national security’

When the reporter claimed the PM himself had said the leak could have come from DFAT, Mr Morrison told the journalist to ‘not put words in my mouth’.

The PM told a journalist to'not put words in my mouth' after he was quizzed about the National Security Committee election-eve disclosure

The PM told a journalist to ‘not put words in my mouth’ after he was quizzed about the National Security Committee election-eve disclosure

 Mr Morrison finished his final day of election campaigning in Perth while Labor leader Anthony Albanese opted for Adelaide, spending his day with South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskus and former prime minister Julia Gillard. 

The PM also delivered his final election pitch to voters, summing up in 10 seconds why they should choose him.

‘Cause a strong economy means a stronger future. We cannot risk Labor with higher debt and higher deficits, which are only going to push up your cost of living and push up interest rates,’ he said.

‘We’ve come so far, now is not the time to turn back and risk Labor, but secure opportunities with a strong economy.’ 

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